Iain Stewart MP for Milton Keynes SouthPosted 12th February 2021
At the time of writing this article, we are still in the lockdown that has sadly been necessary because of the new variant of Covid-19 spreading across the country, and the pressures it is putting on our NHS. However, there has been positive news lately with more vaccines having been approved and now being rolled out to those who need it most. I am hoping that by the time of you reading this article, we will be close to having every extremely clinically vulnerable and over 80 individual, who wants a vaccination, having had at least one dosage.
Along with my colleague, Ben Everitt, MP for Milton Keynes North, we have been lobbying for Milton Keynes to be the location for a new pilot of coronavirus mass testing. The opportunity to mass test will enable us to identify individuals who are positive for Covid-19 and get them to isolate, meaning we can reduce transmission and ultimately lower the number of cases.
I am hopeful that the combination of vaccines and rapid mass testing will soon enable restrictions to be eased and a return to normal life can begin. I know that the ongoing restrictions are tough; with many hurting and making huge sacrifices. From my own family, I know how difficult it is not being able to see loved ones in person and not being able to enjoy the things in life that we cherish. But I beg everyone to remain strong and patient while the country implements the measures that will get us back to normal. Meanwhile, I and my team are available to help constituents and local businesses where we can.
Since I last wrote, the United Kingdom has left the European Union, giving us sovereignty and control of our laws, waters and borders. Already, this Conservative Government has abolished VAT on women’s sanitary products as well as banning pulse fishing in UK waters, with more coming in the next weeks and months. I am optimistic for the future of the United Kingdom, especially with over 60 agreements for Free Trade already agreed, with new deals at the negotiation stage with countries like the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand.
One benefit from leaving the EU is our ability to replace the Erasmus+ scheme with our own, The Turing scheme. It is named after the mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing who worked at Bletchley Park. I am pleased to hear it will be backed by over £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on study and work placements overseas, starting in September 2021. The Turing scheme will go further than Erasmus+ by including countries across the world, while delivering greater value for money to taxpayers and being easier to access to students from less advantaged backgrounds.
In the meantime, please remember to practice hands, face and space! By washing our hands, covering our faces and keeping two metres apart, we can all do our part to protect the NHS and save lives.
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